Lunch boxes, door handles, toilets, oh my! Colds and infections often make their way into homes via the classroom. The CDC reports that "some viruses and bacteria can live from as little as 20 minutes and up to 2 hours or more on surfaces like cafeteria tables, doorknobs and desks." Though proper hand washing may keep germs at bay, parents may be surprised to learn where in school that their children pick up germs and illnesses.
Classrooms are filled with pencils, crayons, markers, books and other school supplies. Even the desk your child sits in can spread germs. Teachers can help curb the spread of germs by encouraging weekly cleaning of desktops and desk contents. In addition, students should be encouraged to throw tissues away after use rather than stuffing them in their desks. Studies have found that the dirtiest thing in the classroom is often the pencil sharpener. To avoid it, WebMD suggests that parents should provide mechanical pencils instead.
WebMD notes that the lunchroom isn't always as sanitary as it should be, especially if your children are sharing their food, failing to wash their hands before eating, or taking their lunch out of a lunchbox that hasn't been properly cleaned. Parents and children can tackle the germs that live and spread in the lunchroom by sharing slices of food, rather than bites, preparing lunches after hand washing and on a clean surface, and washing hands before and after eating.
Parents and teachers regularly remind children to wash their hands after using the bathroom, but many don't think about other ways that germs are spread through the bathroom. Carrying in backpacks and purses and placing them on the floor, for example, spreads germs to you and wherever your bag goes, too. WebMD encourages students to hang bags if they must take them into the bathroom.
Wondering where your child got lice? These insects often spread in schools where children are in close contact. Ask your child's teacher about his or her policy for washing pillows, chair covers and other fabrics found in the classroom. Teachers of young children often have a book nook or library corner that is meant to be comfy for kids. However, once children sit down and get comfortable, lice and germs can spread to fabrics. If a place like this exists in your child's classroom, it's a breeding ground for germs.
The best ways to avoid inviting unwanted germs into your home is to nip them in the bud before they arrive on your doorstep. The CDC encourages regular hand washing, covering your nose and mouth with a tissue that is promptly thrown away, and avoiding touching eyes, mouths and noses. By promoting the same, you help keep the germiest places at school a little bit cleaner, and away from your front door.